Directed by Roger Michell
Morning Glory does little to stifle the yawns.
The story is simple: Aspiring young TV news producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams, Sherlock Holmes) gets fired from her job at Good Morning, New Jersey. It all has to do with budget cuts, not talent, and she lands on her feet, quickly securing a production gig at Daybreak, the basement dweller of morning news.
It's Becky's mission to revive the show, a 47-year mainstay of morning TV which is now on the verge of cancellation thanks in part to a perverted, egotistical lead anchor and a vapid entertainment reporter who abuses the English language.
As it happens, IBS, probably a play on CBS (also known as the "Eye Network") has a veteran evening news anchor on the hook. That'd be Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, Working Girl), a gruff newsman who's mistaken for Dan Rather while walking the streets of New York City.
When Becky tries to marry Daybreak's ditsy view of the world with Mike's hardcore news sensibility, hilarity ensues. Or something like that.
There are two problems with this romantic comedy: The romance and the comedy.
Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has all the romantic moxie of Dan Brown, but at least he had the good sense to stick to his strengths and skip the lovey-dovey overtones altogether in his latest, The Lost Symbol.
In Morning Glory, romance is handled with all the delicacy of a bull in a China shop. In one scene Becky is a news-obsessed young woman driven by career more than love, who quickly bows out with nervous jealousy when her love interest, Adam (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen), chats with a woman of super-model caliber. The very next scene, though, Becky accosts him in his office.
As for the comedy, Morning Glory could've been a great satire with real bite, much like the novel The Devil Wears Prada skewered high fashion magazines. Problem is Brosh McKenna is the same scribe who put Prada's wit on a slim-down diet, making it more like The Devil Wears J.C. Penney. Now, instead of a nice, frothy cappuccino, Morning Glory is more like a watered-down decaf. It's Morning Snoring.
To wit, or lack thereof, Adam dubs Mike the "third worst person in the world." That'd be right behind Kim Jong Il and Angela Lansbury. Heavy sigh. That's about as biting as it gets, but it's not funny.
The rest of the shenanigans mimic morning news programs more than satirize them. Most of the laughs come at the expense of a weatherman who's put through all sorts of stunt pieces in order to goose the ratings.
Easily the best thing about Morning Glory is Rachel McAdams. She is super sweet and she infuses her character with all the right mannerisms of a go-getter. McAdams almost makes the movie's considerable faults forgivable.
For his part, Harrison Ford is also good, but he's much too grim while presenting the news. A quick study of Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and even Dan Rather would reveal that while the subject might be bleak, the news anchor serves as a human buffer, not an amplifier of the sad state of affairs.
Even so, it is funny when Mike, a winner of eight Peabodys, one Pulitzer, and 16 Emmys, talks about his past exploits, having rescued Colin Powell and provided medical assistance to Mother Teresa herself. And a few good cameos make for a nice attempt to supplement that fictional derring-do with a real-world feel. In particular, when Mike goes on a self-sabotaging bender, his drinking buddies are Bob Schieffer, Morley Safer, and a mercifully-silent Chris Matthews.
The character of Mike Pomeroy could've served as a great checkpoint for not only the evening news-morning news contrast, but also the sorry state of today's TV journalism as a whole. Even the evening news shows are succumbing to the temptation to fluff things up and sugar coat hard news. In this day and age of declining TV ratings and shuttered newspapers, opinion is being mistaken for truth and so many bloggers write whatever they want without lifting a finger to do research and check facts. Morning Glory could've been a timely skewer of mass media. Instead, like so many endeavors these days, it aims low and misses its mark.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.